MCS Superintendent Dr. Sara Noguchi, and Board President John Ervin join Gregori HIgh School Principal Phillip Jaramillo in receiving the 2024 California Distinguished School Awards

Joseph A. Gregori High School has been recognized as a 2024 California Distinguished School for the first time in the award's distinguished four-decade history. This significant achievement highlights the school as one of only three in Stanislaus County to receive this prestigious honor from the California Department of Education.  

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond presents Gregori High School Principal Phillip Jaramillo and MCS Staff with a 2024 California Distinguished School Award

Out of the roughly 2,600 high schools and middle schools statewide, Gregori High School stood out as one of just 293 schools chosen for the program this year. Unlike previous years, where schools applied for the award, the California Department of Education used data from the 2023 California School Dashboard to identify honorees. Schools were selected based on their exceptional student performance or success in closing achievement gaps. 

The CDE recognized Gregori High School for its outstanding efforts in narrowing achievement gaps in English and Math, improving the progress of English Language Learners, and demonstrating high graduation rates. 

“We are incredibly proud of the progress Gregori High School has made coming out of the pandemic,” said Dr. Sara Noguchi, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools. “This award is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the entire Gregori High School community, including its students, educators, and families.” 

The California Distinguished School Award celebrates the remarkable strides made by Gregori High School and reflects its unwavering commitment to educational excellence. 

"At Gregori High School, our devoted educators and staff relentlessly empower our young adults to discover their passions and acquire college and career-ready skills that will guide them throughout life," said Phillip Jaramillo, Principal of Gregori High School. "I commend them for setting ambitious standards for our students and fostering their success." 

Gregori High School Principal Phillip Jaramillo proudly displays 2024 California Distinguished School Award

Gregori High School has implemented two innovative programs in the past year to propel student achievement. The first, the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, is a global nonprofit initiative focused on closing the achievement gap by preparing every student for college and post-secondary opportunities. As part of AVID, students are encouraged to take advanced courses while participating in an elective AVID class emphasizing effective notetaking, study skills, organizational strategies, and critical thinking and reading abilities. 

Additionally, the school introduced the region's exclusive Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma program. This rigorous, two-year curriculum centers on two AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. It enables students to develop valuable academic skills, including research, critical thinking, and public speaking, which apply across all disciplines. Students can earn an AP diploma and college credit through the program. 

These initiatives empower students to achieve academic excellence and exceed their future goals. 

"Launching these programs has allowed us to establish instructional strategies and schoolwide norms that foster encouragement and accountability," said Jaramillo. "Our dedicated teachers are committed to continually evaluating and enhancing their instruction, while our students are receptive, motivated, and eager to excel." 

MCS Superintendent Sara Noguchi, Board President John Ervin, and district staff join Gregori High School Principal Phillip Jaramillo and Gregori staff in receiving the 2024 California Distinguished Schools Award in Southern California on Friday, May 3

More about the California Distinguished Schools Award 

Since its inception in 1985, the California Distinguished Schools Award remains one of the state’s most important ways to celebrate exceptional schools, districts, teachers, and classified employees for their innovation, talent, and success in supporting students. 

The 2024 California Distinguished Schools will hold the title for two years because the state recognizes middle and high schools every other year. Next year, elementary schools will have the chance to be recognized with a designation. Please visit the CDE California Distinguished Schools Program web page for more information.